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SD9: School funding activist launches campaign

Katherine Welch, an education funding activist from Piedmont, will formally announce her 9th State Senate District candidacy Saturday, joining two longtime East Bay politicos in the race.

Katherine WelchWelch, 54, was registered as a Republican as of early 2014 but is running as a Democrat against Democratic former Assembly members Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Sandre Swanson of Alameda, as well as San Pablo Vice Mayor Richard Kinney, a Republican.

“I’ve always been a Democrat, if you look at my political contributions,” Welch said Friday, adding that registering for a time with the GOP “was more my frustration with the political process than about the candidates I support … It was a little bit of a protest.”

Campaign finance records support her claim. Welch has contributed to the unsuccessful Proposition 34 of 2012, to abolish the death penalty; ActBlue California, an online Democratic fundraising clearinghouse, in 2012 and 2014; Joan Buchanan’s and Sandra Fluke’s unsuccessful Democratic state Senate campaigns in 2014; and Democrat Betty Yee for state controller in 2014. And her federal contributions dating back to 2004 have supported only Democrats.

She also sank money into last year’s effort by Educate Our State – a nonprofit of which she’s a board member and former chairwoman – to field a ballot measure that would’ve protected local property tax revenues designated for schools from being borrowed or otherwise re-directed by state lawmakers. The measure failed to get enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Welch said Friday she’s making her first run for public office partly to encourage more moms like herself to “go up there (to Sacramento) and start talking about the things we’re not talking about in this state” – mainly, about fully committing to full funding for public schools.

“I’m fortunate enough that I have the time and the passion to do it,” she said, adding that “this whole ‘it’s my turn’ mentality” among politicians is unhealthy for the state and nation.

But asked whether Skinner’s and Swanson’s platforms are lacking, Welch replied, “I’m not running against anyone. … It’s not a question of who’s more progressive, it’s a question of priorities.”

She’s running because “kids, public education and people who don’t really have a voice in Sacramento,” she said. “Money and power and lobbyists have a voice, and kids don’t.”

Welch is working with Democratic political strategist Lisa Tucker of Pleasant Hill, who has worked for figures including former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin. Though she tweeted her intent to run on Sept. 23, she and about 100 of her supporters will kick off her campaign at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 24 in Crocker Park, 81 King Ave. in Piedmont.

Welch served on the board of Gateway Public Schools, a pair of public charter schools in San Francisco, from 2008 to 2014; she currently serves on the board of Head Royce School, an exclusive and very expensive private school in the Oakland Hills. She worked as an analyst for Goldman Sachs for a few years in the 1980s, then as an operations manager for a film and video service, and then as associate director of the Breakthrough Collaborative, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps high-potential, low-income middle school students reach college and inspires high school and college students to pursue careers in education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard University.

The 9th District – from which state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, will be term-limited out next year – is a swath of Contra Costa and Alameda counties from Rodeo in the north to San Leandro in the south, including Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Piedmont, Emeryville, Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Hercules, Kensington and other communities. The district’s voter registration is 63 percent Democrat, 8 percent Republican and 21 percent independent.

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Carly Fiorina held a fundraiser in Piedmont

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was in the East Bay on Monday evening for a fundraiser.

Carly Fiorina with Judy Lloyd in Piedmont 10-12-15The former Hewlett Packard CEO attended a 5:30 p.m. reception at the Piedmont home of Bill Cumbelich, a big-time Bay Area office building broker, and his wife, Sara. The event was hosted by Bechtel Treasurer Kevin Leader; prominent CPA Mike Novogradac; former Accenture General Counsel Doug Scrivner; and health insurance broker Phil Lebherz. (Some of those very same folks hosted a fundraiser for Fiorina’s Senate campaign five years ago.)

Tickets for Monday’s event cost $500 per person for the general reception, or $2,700 per person for a private reception and photo op. Judy Lloyd of Danville, a former Senate aide and Bush administration Labor Department appointee who now runs a public affairs consulting firm, said after attending the event that she’s “intrigued by a number of GOP candidates,” but Fiorina “strikes me as remarkably Reaganesque.” That’s high praise coming from someone who’s now running a weekly study group at the University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics called “First in Their Class: Authentic Women and the Originality that Got Them There.”

“She definitely delivered – she has grown so much since she ran for U.S. Senate here. Like anyone who loses an election or suffers a loss of any kind, if you take the right lessons you get stronger, and I believe she has,” Lloyd said, adding she was particularly impressed by Fiorina’s point that true leaders differ from managers because they challenge the status quo.

“It was a very strong message about her own leadership – she’s not afraid to be challenged,” she said. “She didn’t talk in platitudes or rhetoric, it was all authentic. … And she probably shook every hand – everyone who wanted to meet her had the opportunity.”

Fiorina’s calendar shows a busy schedule of 10 events coming up this Thursday through Saturday in Iowa. She’s now in fourth place behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio in an average of seven recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics; she’s in third place behind Trump and Carson in Iowa, and in second place behind Trump in New Hampshire.

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Bay Area politicos speak about Libya slayings

Here’s what some California politicos are saying about the slaying of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“All Californians mourn the loss of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other three Americans killed in Libya on September 11th. As a graduate of Piedmont High School and UC Berkeley, Ambassador Stevens represented the very best that California and the United States have to offer. His dedicated service to our country and our world will never be forgotten.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“I am heartbroken by the loss of four Americans in Libya, including United States Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, a Californian who dedicated his life to service and diplomacy.

“These extraordinary public servants were working to help the Libyan people build a better future and will go down in history for their contributions to the cause of peace and freedom.

“Today we must all stand together to honor the service of these exemplary Americans and commit ourselves to bringing the perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Our thoughts and prayers rest with the families and loved ones of Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans killed in this vicious and heinous attack against the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi. We condemn this brazen assault in the strongest possible terms.

“These American diplomats served on the front lines of our efforts to work with the Libyan people toward a future of democracy, freedom, justice, and stability. Their commitment to peace and security stand in stark contrast to those who perpetrated this violent act.

“On my visit to Libya and the region earlier this year, I met with some of the courageous foreign service officers representing our nation in the Middle East, despite enormous risk to their own safety. As we mourn the loss of the Americans in Benghazi, we pay tribute to all of the men and women standing their post abroad on behalf of our values and our partnerships across the globe.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi and I extend my thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and loved ones of all the victims of these heinous acts. Among those killed was a son of California and the Bay Area, Ambassador Chris Stevens, who attended Piedmont High School and Cal Berkeley in my congressional district. By any account, his service to our nation was exceptional. Those who knew him well describe him as an “unflappable” diplomat. Certainly, his service, and the service of those lost must be held up as an example of what is best about our nation and the better, stronger future for our country they were working to achieve.”

From Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo:

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic killings of Chris Stevens, the US Ambassador to Libya, and three State Department workers in Benghazi, Libya who worked toward the development of democratic institutions in the war-torn country. I strongly condemn the acts of violence by extremists who attacked the consulate.

“Ambassador Stevens, a Northern California native, dedicated his professional life to conflict resolution and aiding countries in transition from conflict to peace.

“He, and the other State Department workers and their families are in my thoughts and prayers at this time.”

From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa:

“Last night, four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens who grew up in my district, lost their lives in a senseless, coldblooded and violent attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. The families of those we lost are in our thoughts and prayers. And those responsible will be brought to justice.

“Now is not the time for politics or politically provocative language. Now is a time to honor these brave Americans and ensure that all American diplomats serving the United States are safe, and their mission of international peace and partnership is continued.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield:

“I strongly condemn the murder of Ambassador Stevens and the three other members of the diplomatic mission to Libya. These men and women dedicated themselves to selflessly serving our country and partnering with the Libyan people to build a new democratic government. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these patriots. Their legacy of service will live on.”

From Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto:

“I condemn the violent assault on our consulate in Benghazi and Embassy in Cairo, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other brave Americans who lost their lives. There is never justification for such violence, and the United States remains committed to liberty, democracy and religious tolerance throughout the region and the world.”

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California HSR chair to be honored at White House

California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard will be honored tomorrow among “leaders who have devoted their time and efforts to helping their communities reach new heights through transportation innovation,” a White House news release says.

It’s part of the “Champions of Change” program created as a part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future” initiative: Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of champions are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.

“Today’s Champions are leaders in developing and implementing innovative transportation initiatives,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in the release. “They are making a difference every day in their local communities and across the country by improving America’s transportation infrastructure and helping their friends and neighbors get where they need to go.”

Richard, 61, of Piedmont, was a BART director from 1992 to 2004, serving two terms as the board’s president. He also served as Gov. Jerry Brown’s deputy legal affairs secretary from 1982 to 1983 and as deputy assistant for science and technology from 1978 to 1979. He was advisor to the chairman of the California Energy Commission from 1978 to 1982.

He has been a principal of Dan Richard Advisors since 2010. Before that, he was managing partner and co-founder of Heritage Oak Capital Partners, an infrastructure finance firm, from 2007 to 2009, and senior vice president of public policy and governmental relations at Pacific Gas and Electric Company from 1997 to 2006. Earlier still, Richard was a principal at Morse, Richard, Weisenmiller & Associates – a firm serving the independent power industry and project finance lending community – from 1986 to 1996, and was vice president of Independent Power Corporation from 1983 to 1986.

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Third POTUS pool report: At the Piedmont dinner

Co-host Wayne Jordan thanked the guests for committing so much to the campaign, and spoke briefly about how POTUS’ decisions are fundamentally affecting and improving the lives of all Americans. Co-host Quinn Delaney presented POTUS with an “I Hella (heart) Oakland” t-shirt, saying, “We’re so glad you’re here in the East Bay.”

POTUS began speaking at 5:30 p.m. PT, noting that “because this is a more intimate setting, I’m not going to make a long speech.” He said that while in Aurora, Colo., yesterday, he’d “spent time with the families, the medical staff, the first responders,” and while it’s “easy for us to slip into despair” at such times, they showed strength and grace that “would make you extraordinarily optimistic about America.”

“Americans are strong and they’re resilient and they’re optimistic about their futures and their kids’ futures,” he said, although they know of and are concerned about dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and a sluggish economy. “All they want to see is that their leadership shows the same decency and common sense that they try to apply every day in their own lives.”

With jobs added and even the housing market starting to rebound, “we are in a much better position now, in part because of the work my administration has done,” he said. “The bad news is, we still have some headwinds.”

Too many people remain out of work or underwater on their mortgages, POTUS said, and the middle class still needs help.

“Right now we’ve got as clear a choice as we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” he said.

He said the GOP platform calls for tax cuts for the rich and stripping away regulations from Wall Street and corporate polluters. “It’s a theory we’ve tested for a decade and it didn’t work.”

“This debate plays itself out across the board, on almost every issue,” he said, noting that California isn’t a battleground state so many in the audience haven’t seen the attack ads that are flying back and forth elsewhere in the country. “I’m comfortable that the American people will make the right choice.”

“This is going to be a close race … but I’m as invigorated and determined as ever to win,” he said. He finished his remarks at 5:39 p.m. PT, and reporters were ushered out before a Q&A session began.

Renowned chef Alice Waters prepared a meal of grilled jumbo prawns over heirloom tomatoes, avocados and basil; dry-aged beef tenderloin with demi-glace, sweet-pea risotto and carrots; and a chocolate-cherry bombe. Prawns accompanied by Keenan 2010 Chardonnay, beef by Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, both from Napa Valley.

Among those in the dinner crowd: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; prominent Bay Area attorneys Bob Van Nest and Steve Kazan; Ask.com founder and Alta Partners Garrett Gruener; philanthropists and clean-tech investors Jim and Gretchen Sandler; and real estate investment manager Dorine Streeter.

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Romney, Obama and lots of protesters

Bay Area residents can expect a double-whammy of presidential fundraising, and a bevy of protests to go along with it.

Shortly after news broke of President Barack Obama’s fundraising trip to Piedmont and Oakland on Monday, July 23, invitations surfaced for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s events in Woodside and San Francisco on Sunday, July 22.

And protesters will be sure to flock to both.

In fact, a call for protesters to stage outside the president’s 4:30 p.m. event at the Fox Theater on Oakland’s Telegraph Avenue went forth Thursday on the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center’s website.

“I hope you’ll be able to come out, so we can give our President a real East Bay unwelcome, and let him know we’re not happy that he does not have our backs when the big banks foreclose our homes, corporations are allowed to pollute and leave brown fields behind, neighborhood schools are being closed, the police kill people of color with no accountability, OPD kicks the s— out of peaceful protesters, and the feds are raiding our cannabis clubs,” the post said. “The time is now. This is our big chance.”

All $100 and $250 seats for the Fox Theater event have sold out already; VIP seating tickets remain at $1,000, or $7,500 for event-sponsor status including admission to a photo reception; sponsors can then bring additional guests to the photo reception for $2,500 each.

The president also is scheduled to attend a $35,800-a-head dinner reception starting at 4:15 p.m. at the Piedmont home of progressive activist/attorney Quinn Delaney & her husband, real estate developer Wayne Jordan; Jordan is among Obama’s foremost “bundlers.”

And the president earlier that day will hold a roundtable for tech leaders — also at $35,800 per person — at an East Bay location yet to be disclosed.

But Romney will be in the Bay Area sooner, with three events scheduled for the day before the president’s visit.

Romney will have a $50,000-a-head luncheon at the Woodside home of Tom Siebel, founder of C3 and Siebel Systems. Among those scheduled to attend: former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz; Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman; Sun Microsystems cofounder Scott McNealy; and Howard Leach, the former U.S. ambassador to France.

Then Romney heads for a 4:45 p.m. event at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, with tickets ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Former San Francisco Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan will be among the hosts there.

Romney will cap the day with a 6:30 p.m. dinner in Pacific Heights hosted by Shaklee Corp. chairman and CEO Roger Barnett, with a $50,000-a-head price tag.

And might Romney, while he’s here, announce the Bay Area’s own former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate, as the Drudge Report predicted Thursday? Well, you never know. But RedState’s Erick Erickson says “bull shiitake mushrooms” to that.